Filming a conversation - your suggestions at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old May 2nd, 2005, 03:01 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 345
Filming a conversation - your suggestions

Hi everybody,

I'm preparing a short movie, which contains a conversation in a small coffeeroom in a library. A girl and a man meet up and the girl is revealing a secret she thinks that's real to the man. The man is interested and polite, but isn't really going with her strange story. He thinks she's a bit weird, but does not really show it. At the end the man gets interested in her story and is invited by the girl to go out with her to talk some more. Like he's getting convinced and that's exactly what the girl wants.

I'd like to gather some ideas about the way to shoot this scene (that takes about 6-8 minutes). I know about the 180 degrees line. I can take close-ups of the faces, over the shoulder shots, taking wider shots from the side, etc. And know how to cut dialogue/audio and video not on the same points to have a more fluid flow in the editing. But are there some magic tricks you'd like to share?

Many thanks!
__________________
Peter / Orphic Film
www.orphicfilm.nl and www.myspace.com/orphicfilm
Peter Sieben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2nd, 2005, 08:22 PM   #2
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 4,750
You could shoot cutaways to help during editing (cutaways can cover mistakes or add to a scene).

Like if the scene were a squeegee (spelling?) kid talking to a driver, you could grab a cutaway of the driver (discreetly) locking the car doors (an elbow moving over the lock, or a finger over the remote control thingamajig new cars have).

In this scene, maybe get a cutaway of him looking for an escape or him looking at the clock.
A shot that shows him thinking the girl is a bit weird would be good too, although I don't know what you would shoot.
Glenn Chan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 2nd, 2005, 08:56 PM   #3
Trustee
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 1,727
Hey Peter,

Inserts might be good too. Maybe the girl can be fiddling with (or even just hold) a spoon, or sugar shaker or something - maybe subtly highlighting if she's nervous/not totally settled (I'm not saying she is of course) but obviously not too blatant or nothing's left to the imagination. Inserts can be good to make the scene visually more interesting and not just a series of reverse shots - even if they don't add a hell of a lot to the "story" as such. You could even start on the hands stirring a coffee or something and tilt up into a CU, which can be left there for a whole take and work as the CU.

You could also split the scene up with someone delivering a coffee during the shot, sort of breaking things a little, and allowing the man to focus on something that's not her, making us realise he's not totally buying her story (which might make the girl more desperate/frustrated to get him to believe her?).

Given the flow, I might think about a right angled master shot too and use it primarily for the man. This detaches us from the characters a bit, and might fit well for his disinterest. Oh Ok, just noticed you said "Wider shots from the side" - so alternatively, bring one of the OTS of the man out a bit - farther from the line between them.

I don't know if this is the sort of stuff you were after.

Cheers
Aaron


Oh yeah Peter, got your email, forgot to reply ;) Will do though!
__________________
My Website
Meat Free Media
Aaron Koolen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 12:48 AM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 345
Thanks guys, you've been helpful. Perhaps one silly question (I think it's my limited knowleddge of the English language or film language): what's a 'CU'?

What I was thinking about is the fact that the man is getting more interested during the conversation, as the girl is giving more details away of her 'secret' (which makes the secret lesser believable). Is there something we could consider like slowely shooting more close-up, shot after shot, as things get a bit more intense or involved?
__________________
Peter / Orphic Film
www.orphicfilm.nl and www.myspace.com/orphicfilm
Peter Sieben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 01:26 AM   #5
Trustee
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 1,727
Hey Peter. CU is "close up".

Yes, starting wide at first and moving closer can work as you get more interested in people and want to get more intimate or relate to them more. Also moving from side of the "line" towards along the line can do the same - or mix them together.

Also a slow push (dolly in slowly) can do that too, as you stay on a character as they talk or listen for instance.

Aaron
__________________
My Website
Meat Free Media
Aaron Koolen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 06:40 AM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Portsmouth, UK
Posts: 611
Peter, I hope I don't tell you too much you already know but there are some things you might try.

1. Make sure the back-ground sound is very quiet - i.e. as close to silence as you can achieve. Film where you can get the place closed down and fill the background with your own extras. Get those extras to be quiet, miming conversations; you can dub some "walla" in later. A neat trick in post production is to start the scene with just a little too much background sound, and as the man is drawn into her story, the background sound drops down, maybe replacede by some suitably atmospheric music. This trick is used well in the DeNiro/Pacino conversation in Heat.

2. Cover all of the dialogue in close up for each actor, even if you're thinking of using a wide shot or a reaction shot. Get this C/U sound as good as you can and then if other, wider shots are not so good you might be able to slip in the good quality close up sound.

3. Make sure the actors don't overlap each others' dialogue when one of them is off screen. In a two shot, when you can see both actors' mouths then it's OK but in a close up, the other actor is off screen, he should not tread on the other's words. You can put those overlaps back in at the editing stage.

4. Watch out for windows, they can over expose. Try not to frame your characters against any really bright light sources.

5. Think about where you place the actors in the room. I think it always looks better to have some space around the actors so if they can go near the middle of the room it's better. Again, Heat is a good example, or the infamous orgasm scene in "When Harry Met Sally". If they're in a corner it can feel cramped and compressed.

6.If you've given your characters space in the room, you can back the camera away from the actors, and zoom in, which a) is photgraphically more flattering b) also means you can try for a shallower depth of field and in a similar method to the sound trick, sort of blur out the background as the situation gets more intense.
__________________
Shorts::Cut - www.shortscut.org.uk
The Short Film Festival for Portsmouth & Southsea.
Dylan Pank is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 06:52 AM   #7
Capt. Quirk
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Middle of the woods in Georgia
Posts: 3,596
If you want to imply the woman might be crazy, try shooting her with "Dutch" shots. That is tilting the camera framing 45 degrees or so. I believe Hitchcock did this a bit.
__________________
www.SmokeWagonLeather.us
K. Forman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 08:40 AM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Duluth, Georgia
Posts: 248
My first take on this was to have 2 or more cameras rolling at the same time. One on a wide 2-shot for cover, and an over-the-shoulder shot on one or both sides. TC sync the cameras. cutaways could be taken afterwards- stirring coffee, etc. to cut between dialogue.

I dont know your budget or camera availability. If you can use at least 2 cameras, it should make your work much easier. You'll be able to match edits in post, instead of hoping the actors get the movements and gestures the same each time.

the other guys have some good advice as well.

my two cents.

Jeff Patnaude
Jeff Patnaude is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 09:03 AM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Albany NY
Posts: 311
I agree with Jeff's 2 camera idea, but for a different reason. It the dialog is as dramatic as it sounds, having the actors be able to react to each other and record the scene in large blocks, will make it flow better and be more natural dialogue.

If possible, connect both cameras to a common monitor so you can make sure they are color balanced, exposed and framed (eye-line match) the same.

Good luck
Mike Cavanaugh is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 09:13 AM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 345
Hi everybody,

Thanx for all suggestions, they are very helpful!

Yes, I thought of renting a second DVX100, but I can't get them locally and there will probably a week period between the 2 shooting days. So that means renting it for 7 days or so, or driving a lot back and forth. But perhaps the renting dealer will make me an offer I can't refuse (hey, just thinking: they can sponsor the project as I also bought my DVX100 from them and also my Vinten tripod).
Oops, thinking about timecode syncing .... this is all new for me.

I 've planned to work with a soundman, using a boom pole with a high quality microphone. Plug that into the 'main' DVX100 to record all master audio on that camera.

Regarding the audio mix: I already have the idea to make it a very 'quiet' soundtrack. Meaning that you'll hear the voices very accurate, and for the rest a 'silent' surrounding. It's taking place at a library, where it's always very silent. Every small sound is like a big loud explosion, so I want to experiment with that during the final mixing.
__________________
Peter / Orphic Film
www.orphicfilm.nl and www.myspace.com/orphicfilm
Peter Sieben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 09:14 AM   #11
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 345
Mike, if I'm going to use 2 DVX100's I want to whitebalance them on the same location and make sure they both got the same settings in the Scenefile (25P, cinegamma etc).
__________________
Peter / Orphic Film
www.orphicfilm.nl and www.myspace.com/orphicfilm
Peter Sieben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 09:48 AM   #12
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 345
OT: testshooting

I just remembered I did some test shootings last week in the library for this film project. If you like to see some (badly webcompressed) screenshots, surf to

http://www.orphicfilm.nl/html/2005-test.html

Filmed with the DVX100 (PAL) and widescreen reframing plus Magic Bullet color correction with Vegas 6.
__________________
Peter / Orphic Film
www.orphicfilm.nl and www.myspace.com/orphicfilm
Peter Sieben is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 3rd, 2005, 11:57 AM   #13
Major Player
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Portsmouth, UK
Posts: 611
Only my opinion, but I don't recommend the 2 cam approach, especially the one close up and one wider. For one it means you can't get the mic as close and you'll lose that tight close up sound quality especially in a real location. In a studio it might be different, secondly it means you can't light the close ups as easily. OK so there might be no lighting rig and the look is as "natural light" as much as possible, but still, there should be a little bounce or fill just to stop the actors eyes darkening or to control the contrast ratio.

If you use the cross angle approach (ie each actor having their own cam) then you need twice as many extras and you'll again have your attention as director split. Whose performance are you watching, whose was better, which actor will you give feedback to? If you are using lights then you reduce the amount of space you can place lights in as the area behind each camera is now possibly in view, and also you're now convering more angles. I can see the justification in some ways as it ensures continuity and a certain amount of actorly "freedom", and I gather the scene from "Heat" I mentioned earlier WAS shot with two cameras, but this was a big budget show with a crew used to the additional logistics. Getting actors' movements to match is usually done by having someone take proper continuity, and getting the actors to rehearse their movements as much as they rehearse their lines.

If you do choose the two camera method, timecode syncing isn't important as you can just use a clap slate (or even a hand clap) and sync them on the timeline.
__________________
Shorts::Cut - www.shortscut.org.uk
The Short Film Festival for Portsmouth & Southsea.

Last edited by Dylan Pank; May 5th, 2005 at 08:16 AM. Reason: edited for spelling...
Dylan Pank is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 4th, 2005, 01:30 AM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: The Netherlands
Posts: 345
Good points Dylan. Thank you very much. I have enough input to make up my mind before we start shooting.
__________________
Peter / Orphic Film
www.orphicfilm.nl and www.myspace.com/orphicfilm
Peter Sieben is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Special Interest Areas > Techniques for Independent Production

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:31 AM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network